By George Whitten, BosNewsLife Senior International Correspondent

WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (BosNewsLife)– A small evangelical Christian congregation in Florida plans to burn Korans Saturday, as a protest against violent Islamic extremists on September 11, the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States despite international concerns about the action.

Reverend Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, says despite receiving death threats, he and other church members plan to burn 200 Korans on Saturday at the church.

Reverend Jones told media that Islamic extremism poses “a threat” to the United States and the world. He stressed however that moderate Muslims should feel free to practice their faith and said his church’s message is not intended for all Muslims. “We are not hateful toward Muslims. We are not aiming this at Muslims,”we are aiming this at Sharia law.”

The pastor explained that his announced “International Burn a Koran Day” will “honor those who were murdered at that time [September 11th].” The event, he said, is sending “a real clear message out to Islam that we will not tolerate, we do not want them trying to push their agenda on us, in other words, Sharia law.”


Reverend Jones said he and other members now carry pistols to defend the congregation of some 50 people. He refused to cancel the protest. “How much do we back down? How many times do we back down?” Jones told The Associated Press (AP) news agency.

“Instead of us backing down, maybe it’s to time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior.”

Still, Jones said he would pray about his decision. He has dismissed criticism of other Christians as “cowardly.” He said, even if they think burning Korans is extreme, Christians should be standing with him in “denouncing the principles of Islam”.

Critics of Jones say the Koran burnings will be unnecessary putting the lives of Christians living within Islamic nations at risk. “How will the burning of Korans help me spread the gospel?”, a pastor within an Islamic nation, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, told BosNewsLife. “The Koran burnings will endanger the lives of the members of our underground church.”


In Afghanistan, in the capital city of Kabul hundreds gathered to denounce any desecration of the Koran, chanting “Long live Islam” and “Death to America.” Some people said the event is aimed directly at Muslims everywhere. Hundreds rallied in Kabul, Afghanistan, to denounce Jones and any desecration of the Koran.

In Indonesia, thousands of Muslims  rallied outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta to denounce any Koran burnings.

General David Petraeus, top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the Koran burnings could endanger U.S. troops and damage the overall war effort in that country.  He warned that images of the burning of a Koran “would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan – and around the world – to inflame public opinion and incite violence”.

Reverend Renwick Bell, the pastor of a nearby church, told reporters that very few Christians would support burning the Koran. “When a Christian minister does something like this, I like to ignore it, yet it does cause fervor in the world. I just think he [Jones] is doing something without thinking about it, or trying to get publicity,” he told the Voice of America (VOA) network.


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